Monday, March 1, 2010

Where Have All the Young Moms Gone?

Most of the time, I don't feel like a young mom. There are plenty of women for whom the label "young mother" seems much more appropriate than it does for me. (It recently occurred to me that when my mother-in-law was my age, had a ten-year-old. If I had a ten-year-old right now? I'd probably be dead.) Statistically speaking, I'm close to average. More importantly, my internal clock says that my early late-twenties are well-spent wrangling a toddler.

And then I leave the house.

I always notice the other women with children. It's immediate. I couldn't keep from doing it if I tried. It's a reflex rather than a conscious decision. And I can't get over the wacky conclusion I always seem to come to: these women are older than I am.

It's not that the mothers I notice look older, necessarily. It's true that in certain neighborhoods, one does tend to encounter the "designer grandma," with her designer jogging suit, designer stroller, and, of course, designer grand-baby--so occasionally I do find myself wondering about the mother-vs.-grandmother status of some of the broads-with-babies out there. I suspect that, despite the trend in cities to wait longer to have children, more than a few of these women are around my age. But there's something "older" about them. Something that feels more grown-up, at least to a stranger's (my) sideways glance in the supermarket.

These "older" moms seem so much more put- and pulled-together than I am. It's superficial (and stupid) but seeing women with tiny babies looking better than I do now makes me feel like a late bloomer. When I overhear them talking at the park, they seem to have their shit figured out. Or, at least, they're better at pretending they do.

I am nowhere near having my shit figured out. I'm not even close to being able to pretend that I do (or maybe I'm just unwilling to pretend). But I feel like I have more in common with the rowdy highschoolers who get off the bus across the street from my house every afternoon at three than I do with the other parents. Of course, when I was a (not-so-rowdy) highschooler, I thought I had more in common with my teachers than I did with my peers.

So maybe it's not that I'm a clueless young mom who's still not super-comfortable in her role. Maybe instead of a late bloomer, I'm more of a backwards bloomer, rebelling against the seasons.



candace said...

It is totally a facade. These women just look like they have their shit together or they are rich and can afford nannies, cleaners, etc. The rest of us moms just don't care enough to make ourselves look put together or "mature", or at least I don't. Not saying I run out of the house in sweats but my toddler frazzles me and I totally look the part!

I think it is a good thing to feel and look younger than the others, maybe that means you are more fun! If you are like us, you live in a city with no money, no family and no nannies so of course you aren't totally together.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

I feel similarly...and sometimes think I have more in common with the train-wrecks on MTV's Teen Mom than I do with the other mothers my own age.

The Beckster said...

I'm always watching that Teen Moms show and I think - ya know, it's not that different when you are 31 and married! (Well, of course it's very different!) But not in the basic sense that it's just HARD to be a mom, no matter what. I go to work with feces on my blouse. What else is new? I see moms who are thin, stylish, put together, their babies outfits are cute and clean, trendy strollers, yada yada yada. I can't compete. I worship my normal mom friends, even if I only have like two of them. So, I relate!

vertigob said...

I was 39 when I had my son and 41 when I had my daughter. I know what you are talking about. Those women with the designer stuff bug the crap out of me. It makes me crazy to see some rail thin mom at the park with her nanny dealing with the children while she talks on the phone!

I still feel like the babysitter waiting for the real mom to show up. I feel totally unqualified for this job on a daily basis.

More often that not, I am wearing one of my husband's t-shirts and I have food, poo, drool, snot or some combination of those on it. I can only manage a shower every other day, so I look like a sleep-deprived mom all of the time.

I am not even close to having my shit figured out, but my children don't care! That is what is so awesome about them! As my son loves to tell me, "You are the best mommy I ever knew."